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A man who suffered severe brain damage after being given the MMR vaccine as a baby has been awarded £90,000 in a landmark ruling expected to pave the way for thousands of similar compensation claims.

Robert Fletcher, 18, was a healthy 13-month-old baby when he was given the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. He now suffers from frequent epileptic fits, is doubly incontinent and is unable to stand, talk or feed himself.

Obviously this is tragic for Mr Fletcher and his family but…

The Department of Health denied any link between his disabilities and the controversial jab, but a medical assessment panel ruled last week that Mr Fletcher became severely disabled as a direct result of the MMR.

That is a hell of claim. My understanding is that no serious study has shown MMR to be dangerous. I am now thinking of Arthur Eddington, the great astrophysicist. He had a dictum that one should never believe experimental results until they are backed by theory. He was right. Unless you have a physically viable mechanism you are merely correlating and correlation is not causation.

It is thought to be the first compensation award in an MMR case since the vaccine became a focus for controversy in 1998, when the now discredited Dr Andrew Wakefield claimed it could be linked to autism.

To call Wakefield “discredited” is somewhat of an understatement and to suggest that Mr Fletcher’s problems have anything to do with autism are totally irrelevant so what the now ex-Dr Wakefield’s work has to do with this is beyond me.

Medical legal experts said last night that the ruling could open the floodgates to thousands of similar claims by families who believe their children have been adversely affected by the jab.

The vultures are circling…

Dr Robin Moffat, president of the Medico-Legal Society, said: “I would have thought there will be a surge of actions as a result of this”.

“Today, everyone is money-conscious, and if a doctor makes a mistake they are all looking for compensation, and many of them get it.”

The vultures have landed…

Dr Malcolm VandenBurg, a medical legal expert, said: “One case like this makes other people think that they will be able to get a similar ruling. In the past, when there has been a first ruling of this kind, it has opened the door to others.”

… and are feeding.

Nadine Dorries, a Conservative MP who sits on the Commons Health Committee, said: “If an independent panel has reached the conclusion that there has been a link between the MMR vaccine and the brain damage suffered by this boy in this case, then it is fair to assume that there could be as many as thousands of children and parents in the same position.”

Enter stage left “Mad” Nad just to put the cherry on the top.

Mr Fletcher, from Warrington, Cheshire, requires round-the-clock care from his parents, who have been battling for compensation for 13 years.

His mother, Jackie, dismissed the £90,000 award as “derisory”, but said she was pleased to have been vindicated.

Mrs Fletcher set up and runs the pressure group JABS which is helping around 2,000 families who claim their children were harmed by the MMR with their struggles to win compensation.

Her first application for compensation under the Government’s Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme was rejected in 1997 on the grounds that it was impossible to prove what had caused Robert’s illness.

“Round the clock care” and 90 grand. That’s a pay-off. That in no way represents the cost of this man’s care. I shall not even dignify the “vindicated” here because there is too much of the scientist to me.

But her appeal was upheld last week. In a six-page judgement, the medical assessment panel wrote: “Robert was a more or less fit boy who, within the period usually considered relevant to immunisation, developed a severe convulsion… and he then went on to be epileptic and severely retarded.

“The seizure occurred ten days after the vaccination. In our view, this cannot be put down to coincidence.”

If not coincidence (and such things do happen) then what? Have we a mechanism here?

If not then the best bet is that it is coincidence. I hope to Hell this doesn’t re-ignite the whole MMR debate which should have been put out to grass years ago.

Put it this way. If I had kids I’d have them have the MMR vaccination. That. Simple.


  1. CountingCats says:

    one should never believe experimental results until they are backed by theory

    So Jocelyn Burnell should have ignored the scruff? Because she had no hypothesis, let alone theory, to explain it? One was developed later though, but only because she did believe it.

    Sounds like a warmist argument. The lack of a mid latitude tropospheric warming signature is not consistent with theory, therefore it can be ignored?

  2. Dave Sparrow says:

    How many “more or less fit boys” (and that phrase in itself makes me suspicious anyway of his overall health – why not say “fully fit”) have suffered severe convulsions leading to epilepsy who have NOT been within 10 days of an MMR vaccination.
    If it’s at least one, then there would be even less reason to suspect the jab than there is at the moment, and it has to be a pretty low suspicion anyway until there is any supporting evidence.

  3. RAB says:

    For Medical Legal Experts read… Ambulance Chasers.

    They are in no way Medical Experts but Legal Experts who deal with very easy targets.

    Analogous is the criminalisation of Legal Highs, like Meow Meow, because a few people have died after taking it. It has subsequently been proved that the drug had nothing whatsoever to do with the deaths, they all died of other causes entirely.
    But the drugs are now classified Class B nonetheless. No research has been done into them whatsoever.

    But hey, we cant have people having fun and calculating their own risks can we? Ban it!

  4. Matt Wardman says:

    A case for insurance type (i.e., no fault) compensation?

    >“Round the clock care” and 90 grand. That’s a pay-off.

    Parents having to give round the clock care looks like a cost not a payoff.

  5. mike says:

    Were any parents forced into allowing the children to have the MMR vaccine? It was so long ago that I don’t remember clearly, but am I right in thinking parents had a choice?

  6. Bod says:

    I think the ‘having fun’ bit of Meow Meow was what really upset the bansturbators.

    The very idea that someone, somewhere was enjoying themselves is just too much to bear. That, and dead people are harder to scold – so they were also upset that they lost some of their congregation.

  7. NickM says:

    Eddington was being somewhat tongue in cheek. And of cause Bell and Hewish were right to pursue the LGMs. What you do though have to be very careful about is extrapolating or basing further work on something which is essentially just an empirical observation. And if you’re doing that, as in this case (note they specifically said this is just about this one lad), with a single datum point then frankly you might as well really on what a bloke down the pub claimed “Stands to reason innit”. Back to Eddington. How well up are you on the history of the development of relativity? People tried all manner of stuff to keep the ether. Essentially until Einstein published the Special Theory it was chaos and it is far to say nobody really understood the null result of Michelson and Morley. A bit later on of course you have general relativity and it beautifully explains the advance of the perihelion of Mercury. There had been some epic cludges before – invisible planets perturbing Mercury’s orbit and one baroque attempt to change the exponent in Newton’s law of gravitation to something like 2.00000016. Pure curve-fitting. It is exactly 2 for very sound geometrical reasons.

    Yes they did. Two choices. They could pay for separate injections – about 300 quid I think or just not vaccinate at all.

    I meant “pay-off” in the sense that it is just to close the chapter. It of course in no way represents anything like enough to look after this lad.

    PS. Meow Meow was not even called that until the tabloids created a moral panic over it. Did any of you see the Brass Eye special where they invented a drug called Cake and questions were seriously asked in parliament about this dread new substance.

  8. Chalcedon says:

    That level of care would cost around 4 to 6 million including having the house modified. That would cover him for an average life span. If the prognosis is much bleaker which I expect it is, then a lower millions would be appropriate. That level of care costs serious money.

  9. JohnRS says:

    “Put it this way. If I had kids I’d have them have the MMR vaccination. That. Simple.”

    Which is fine, go ahead feel free. But for those who werent convinced by the heavy handed gummint attempt to stifle debate why not allow the previous single vaccines to remain available?

    By forcing everyone to either go with the MMR or abstain all they did wwas make it look like there was something to hide. Letting Wakefield position himself as David vs the gummit Goliath was just as dumb. Personal/parental choice of a vaccine would have cut this issue down to size and all the fuss would have been avoided.

    Even now it rumbles on despite the so-called independent inquiry, GMC verdict etc etc. Who really knows, I’m no doctor so I certainly don’t, but maybe Mad Nad and Wakefield are right!!

  10. CountingCats says:

    Well, I never really believed the autism claims in the first place, and accepted the enquiry into MMR when it happened; problem I have now is, following the motley CRU whitewashes, how can I/we believe anything a gubbmint enquiry finds? All credibility shot to pieces; even if they are being honest we can’t know it.

  11. NickM says:

    If Mad Nad is right about anything I’m a monkey’s uncle. Pass the bananas! Wakefield’s “research” was unbelievably shonky. He raised a moral panic over next to nothing. He’s been struck off you know.

    MMR has been used in a lot of countrys such as Canada and Sweden with no problems. Such a conspiracy would have even moi reaching for the tin foil hat. The CRU are a different kettle of sardines. Climatology has seen over the past 15 years or so a rise in the $$$ spent on it scarcely without parallel*. To put it bluntly Cinders didn’t want to go back to the coal cellar. Thrones and dominions, thrones and dominions…

    *The only thing I can think of is the what the Manhattan Project did for nuclear physics. The overwhelming sense amongst the physicists at Trinity was, “Phew! It works!” because otherwise they would have pissed 2 billion dollars up the wall hunting a snark. Fortunately with nuclear weapons it’s fairly easy to tell if they work – I mean you kinda notice.

  12. Dave Jones says:

    Quote Put it this way. If I had kids I’d have them have the MMR vaccination. That. Simple.
    wonder what mrs fletcher thinks of that . its all about cost dumbo and always will be

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